What a difference a year makes.
Trevor Simsby is in a good spot, enjoying a successful final season as a Washington golfer before he begins pursuing his dream of being a PGA Tour player.
But a year ago, he wasn’t liking golf so much. That’s what can happen when you enter the spring season ranked as the No. 7 college player in the country in the Golfweek/Sagarin ratings, then fall into a slump and finish 68th.
“In golf, you’ve got to have confidence, and it’s obvious that I wasn’t feeling very confident,” he said. “I wasn’t liking golf.”
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He entered last spring with high expectations after winning the prestigious Pac-12 preview in the fall and finishing second out of 116 at the Waikoloa Invitational in Hawaii.
Soon after came finishes of 47th, 58th, 60th and 70th in four straight tournaments over two months.
“I just got ahead of myself,” said the unassuming and affable Simsby. “I was thinking about rankings and things like that.”
And when things starting going awry, he pressed even more.
But the key to ending the slump, he said, was not a tweak to his game. It was an overhaul of his mindset.
“Coach (Matt) Thurmond says golf is something you should fit into your life, not be your life,” he said. “I started getting more interested in what my teammates were doing, my schoolwork and just tried to be more balanced in my life.”
Once he did that, the scores began to improve. His fifth-place finish in the Pac-12 championships last spring was the start of the rebound.
In Simsby’s case, less actually is more.
“I actually like it when it rains real hard for a couple of days and I get a break because it recharges my passion for the game, and then I can’t wait to get back out there. It’s a very hard game, and I’ve also learned to enjoy it when I am playing well.”
Thurmond said he talked with Simsby during his slump, but the coach doesn’t take credit.
“I do remember Trevor living and dying with every shot and how he felt about himself and his life was how he did on his last hole, and that’s a dangerous thing,” Thurmond said. “Trevor is a very process-oriented guy who is very disciplined about his routine. After the fall, he started to put a lot of pressure on himself over rankings and results, and he started missing his processes, and got away from focusing on what got him there.”
Simsby, who went to high school in Carlsbad, Calif., worked hard on his game over the summer. His strengths have been driving and putting, and he says his work on his wedge game has made him better than he’s ever been from 110 yards and closer.
Once again, Simsby is climbing up the collegiate rankings, and is up to No. 45. But this time he isn’t paying much attention.
“If you play well, that takes care of itself,” said Simsby, who plans to turn pro after the season.
Simsby said he is thoroughly enjoying his final season and he is coming off fifth- and ninth-place finishes in the past two weeks and has finished in the top 15 in seven of 10 events this season.
He and Garrett Chambers are the only two seniors on the 13th-ranked team in the Golfweek/Sagarin rankings. The Huskies have been among the top collegiate programs in the country over the past decade, and Simsby would love to end his run by helping deliver the team’s first national title.
“This is the closest group I have ever played with here,” he said. “We are all on the same page and we really enjoy hanging out with each other. I really think we can surprise people. We will be underdogs, but I kind of like that.”
And if adversity hits, Simsby will know how to handle it.
“I think (the slump) is one of the best things that happened to him because he learned so much,” Thurmond said. “I think he will have a great pro career. I think 10 years from now, people will be saying, ‘Where did he come from?’ ”
Scott Hanson: 206-464-2943 or firstname.lastname@example.org